California-based Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) is working with Littlepay to add contactless payment options for its bus riders. The initiative is part of the Caltrans-led California Integrated Travel Project (Cal-ITP) to improve travel planning and transit payments throughout the state.
Caltrans, in collaboration with Visa, is working with Cybersource, a Visa solution, Littlepay, SC Soft, and Elavon to provide ticketing and payment technology. MST riders can purchase rides by simply tapping their contactless credit, debit, prepaid card, or digital wallet on readers as they board MST buses.
Using Littlepay’s merchant portal, MST has configured daily, weekly, and 31-day fare caps to create cost savings for frequent riders. At point of tap, Littlepay’s back office checks whether a rider’s card is valid for travel using near real-time deny lists. It provides authorization and settlement; and price adjustments to reflect fare caps.
MST is reportedly the first transit agency in California and the fifth in the U.S. to accept tap-to-pay fares, following Chicago, Miami, New York, and Portland. It is also the first public transit system in the country located outside of a main urban area to introduce open contactless payments.
Contactless fare collection is just one aspect of Cal-ITP, alongside improving access to accurate transit information and creating a statewide eligibility verification program for fare discounts. The MST demonstration is intended to show how a transit agency can incorporate open-loop payments in line with Cal-ITP objectives: cost-efficiency for transit agencies; interoperability for users across transit agencies; and the seamless provision of passenger-pleasing discounts for selected customer groups.